Bishop Julius C. Trimble is pleased to announce the selection of the Rev. Russ Abel to serve as the Conference Superintendent for the East District for the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church effective July 1, 2019. He will be following the Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright, who will be transitioning to Conference Superintendent for the Central District upon Jim Bushfield’s retirement.

“Rev. Russ Abel has demonstrated excellence, commitment, and grace in his leadership in the Indiana Conference. I look forward to the ways he will empower the ministries in the East District and continue to support our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” said Trimble.

Russ currently serves as Senior Pastor of St. Joseph United Methodist Church (Ft. Wayne). He became an Ordained Deacon in 1997 and Elder in 2000. Since that time, he has served at Walker’s Chapel and Garrison Chapel (Bloomington), St. Andrew and Rockford (Seymour), Mohawk (Greenfield), and First UMC (Mount Vernon). An Air Force veteran, Russ holds degrees from Indiana University and Christian Theological Seminary.

Russ has served on—and currently chairs—the Board of Ordained Ministry for the Indiana Conference. Previously, he was part of the team that formed—and was the first director of—Residence in Ministry (RIM) for the South Conference.

“I am deeply honored and wildly excited to serve the East District,” Russ said. “I believe the Church is entering a season in which relationships will be more important than anything else. The ultimate expression of that is a relationship with Jesus Christ. I look forward to serving the churches and pastors of the East District as together we: share grace, extend love, and reflect Jesus.”

Russ and his wife, Michelle, have 2 children: Emma, 24 and Sam, 21. The Abels currently live in Ft.  Wayne but plan to relocate to the East District in the spring.

You may share your thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes with Russ at


About The Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church
The Indiana Conference is a regional body of The United Methodist Church and provides leadership, resources, and support for more than 1,120 congregations ranging in size from 20 to 8,000 members in 10 districts across the state of Indiana. There are more than 1,000 pastoral appointments to those churches, ministering to more than 200,000 adult members and 40,000 children and youth.